From designing a jacket for his matric class in Buren High School to owning a clothes tailoring and manufacturing business.Cape Town brewed Idrees Ramazani (23) is one of the few to have the courage and desire to establish their own craftsmanship at an early age.
So we also made it our business to stop at one of Idrees' workshop space in Cape Town CBD to hear all about the founder of IRC ® - his whole life adventures from Kigali and business activities...
Please tell us about yourself and your background...
Alright, I was born Idrees Ramazani on February 3th 1993 in the city of Kigali, Rwanda. After a year we moved to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania until I was 5 years old then we moved to Johannesburg for another year and settled in Cape Town. So I grew up in the Mother city, Milnerton specifically.
Most Africans have a significant meaning to their names depending of their families or ethnic groups so please tell us about yours?
The name Idrees means peace and my surname Ramazani stands for the 'month of endurance' like Ramadan. As much as there is still Hutu, Tutsi and Twa back in Kigali but everyone just blended now. My father is from Burundi and mother from Rwanda and I believe people were just meant to mingle man so I prefer to call myself Rwandese.
If you were to compare the energy and life from the cities you've been, how would you describe it??
Dar es Salaam is a lot chilled and there isn't so much diversity like here in Cape Town which is a lot more developed. I had a lot of friends in Bongo flava it was unfortunate-fortunate that I had to move.
What did you want to be growing up? or what did the parents 'suggested'
Haha! I actually thought I'd be a rapper or something and I remember I once recorded a very explicit song with my friends back in the days but ohh my father wanted me to become a mechanical engineer and spend 6months working in the sea - no ways!
Okay now tell us how did you get into tailor business?
My father is a tailor so back on my matric year at Buren high school it happened that I and a friend of mine had the best design for our customized matric jacket and I was asked to manufacture those for everyone. After my matric year I took this job at a digitizing company I used to work for during school holiday and later decided to go back to tailoring and do my own thing.
When you love something so much it becomes easier to put work and time to it. I never went to school for tailoring, everything I know I picked it up from watching my father, right after matric I kept making for more customized clothes for myself and people loved them and that's how IR Clothing was born plus now we also do manufacturing for other local brands as well.
What's your connection with Dashiki and how do you identify with it?
My father is a tailor right so there were always Dashiki items in my house. I remember one time her made outfits for the whole family on the New year's, shirt and pants for me and my brother, for my sisters and my mother, so we had like a uniform for Hijri.
Dashiki has very much interesting patterns and you must be careful with them as they carry a certain story within them. So I use my contemporary concepts of the fabric to tell a modern day story and it is my signature I don't care who else has it haha!
In your own insight, how does an African or your formal dress code look like?
An African dress code for me is called a 'Bubu' - three piece attire made out a wax material called bazin. Basically it's a shirt, pants and a hat which is very light in texture compare to the western suits because Africa is quite warm so you need to cool off and of course rock it with handmade leather sandals.
You are established now, so whats the next step for Idrees and IRC?
We already have a bigger space in Milnerton. The plan now in the next 5 years is acquire a fully functioning manufacturing house and get a store in Century city and Long Street. Also we plan on holding an exhibition show around December 16-17 this year as well.
What do you think the African brands like yours need to do in order for this kind of dress code or Africa designed outfits to make regular appearance in our formal events especial on government assembles?
Well, the African brand has always been big but much underestimated also and that's because we ourselves don't put value in our own product. There's a lot of African designs but they are not well packaged and promoted so to have a trademark or brand associated with them so as a results they get plagiarized by the western brands and then given a new identity.
What we need is proper packaging and investment in our own product so that when we put it out in the market its value grows instead of declining at losing status.
It's not common to find a young person investing in their own artistry like you, how would you advise a young person at you age in order to also establish themselves?
For us young people the biggest obstacle and challenge is that we wanna have it all and the very begin - everyone has to start somewhere. So you got to chose now whether you want to establish yourself when you still young and have fun later. That's the only challenge on my way right now - to focus on what I wanna achieve and work hard and put in more hours. Surfer now and have fun later.
Go out there and get it - it's not gonna come for you. People tend to moan about this not happening but things will never happen when you sitting in you comfort zone - and I can never understand how a mentally stable person with fully functioning body with limbs be standing in the corner begging - there's so much to do and all one needs to do is find a gap out there in the market and fill it - go out there and get it!!